For years I wanted to see the tulips in Amsterdam. Ever since I saw one of those viral photos of the fields and fields of colourful rows, I knew this was something I wanted to experience! So when I realized that Amsterdam was only a 4-hour drive away from my new home in Lille, I knew it was the perfect long weekend destination!
I visited the Netherlands over the Easter long weekend in 2022. It was one of my most magical trips to date and one of the only trips I’ve taken so far dedicated to finding flowers! That was the main objective.
The Easter long weekend was a great time to see the tulips in Amsterdam because the tulips in Amsterdam are in bloom from the beginning of April until the beginning of May. That means that the BEST time to visit is in the middle of April because most flowers are in full bloom by then!
This also coincides with the Amsterdam Tulip Festival. In 2023, the dates for the festival are from March 23rd to May 14th. During this time, across Holland, there are Flower Parades and tonnes of other activities to allow people to admire the colourful flowers.
This itinerary is how we had the most enchanting experience in the Netherlands in the Spring. We had a sunny afternoon in Amsterdam, a day dedicated to flowers and a morning marvelling at windmills. Feel free to use this itinerary for your own upcoming trip to the Netherlands or even as a starting point for your trip planning.
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1: Arrive and explore Amsterdam
2: Visit the tulip fields and Keukenhof Gardens
3: Admire Windmills at Zaanse Schans and head home
Day 1 – Explore Amsterdam
Arriving in Amsterdam
No matter what or where you’re coming from, Amsterdam is most likely the easiest place to arrive and start your trip.
🚗 Arriving by car: This is how we arrived in Amsterdam since it is relatively close to Lille. We left on a Saturday morning in order to spend most of our day in the city. I would strongly advise NOT parking in the city centre. Parking is very expensive and you can easily park on the outskirts and take public transportation into the city.
🚂 Arriving by train: If you’re arriving by train, you most likely will arrive at the Amsterdam Centraal Station which is right smack in the middle of the city! This is a very central spot to start your day! Compare ticket prices using Omio or Trainline!
✈️ Arriving by plane: If you’re arriving by plane, you most likely will arrive at Schiphol Airport. There is a train station only a few minutes walk away from the arrivals section of the airport that will take you to Amsterdam Centraal Station within 15 minutes.
To optimize your weekend, I highly suggest trying to arrive in Amsterdam in the morning. That way you can have most of the day dedicated to exploring the city! Of course, a half-day or even a full day in Amsterdam only gives you a taste of the city but it will give you enough time to walk around and explore.
Afternoon in Amsterdam
My best advice for anyone exploring Amsterdam is to walk around and wander. Get yourself next to a canal and just explore. There are countless numbers of canals and bridges that any one of them are more than picturesque!
A good place to start is to wander from Amsterdam Centraal towards the Damrak Canal/Harbour. It’s lined with the iconic thin, tall Dutch buildings. It’s the perfect photo spot! Right beside the Damrak is also Tony’s Chocolonely Superstore a massive fair trade chocolate shop and one of my favourite brands of chocolate.
From there you can make your way to Ouderkerksplein and you will be super close to the Red Light District. This is another side of Amsterdam that is iconic and if it’s something you’re interested in checking out, it’s just across the canal!
You can wander your way down the canals toward a really tasty place to grab a snack: Van Wonderen Stroopwafels! Stroopwafels are 2 Dutch round waffles that are super thin and held together by caramel. They are super tasty and this classy-looking shop offers a bunch of different toppings to try! Be prepared to wait in line, but don’t worry it moves relatively fast!
Seeing tulips IN Amsterdam
Now, you’ll be excited to know that you can also find tulips IN Amsterdam. Of course, visiting the tulip fields are a MUST (and is the main event of tomorrow), you can get your first taste by dropping by the Bloemenmarkt. This is a flower market that actually sits on top of the canal. It’s quite touristy but it is filled with flowers – it’s worth the stop in my opinion!
If you have extra time in Amsterdam…
There is so much to see in Amsterdam! You can also spend time exploring the Anne Frank House, the Rembrandt Museum or even the Heineken Factory!
Anne Frank House
💰 It costs 16 euros to visit
⏰ You need at least 1 hour in the museum
📆 Tickets can be booked online with a time slot. I HIGHLY recommend booking well in advance. I tried visiting this museum on 2 separate occasions and both times I could not go because tickets were sold out.
💰 It costs 17.50 euros to visit
⏰ A visit tends to take between 1-1.5 hours
📆 The Museum is closed on Mondays! You can book your tickets online here!
💰 There are a few different tour options but the basic ticket which is a self-guided tour costs 21 euros
⏰ Visitors take around 2 hours to visit
📆 Tickets can be booked online for different time slots!
Where we stayed
We actually didn’t stay in the city of Amsterdam. Because we had access to a car, we decided to stay in the countryside which was a bit cheaper and meant we were a bit closer to the tulip fields. We stayed in a small farmhouse in Warverveen that we found on Airbnb that was super cute!
If you do not have access to a car, I recommend staying closer to Amsterdam or in the city centre. It will be easier for you to get around for the rest of the weekend since you will need public transportation to get to the tulip fields. Staying in Amsterdam does tend to get pricey so the sooner in advance you can book the better!
Day 2 – A day dedicated to Tulips
Today is the day! This was the day I was waiting for and it’s all dedicated to experiencing the colourful flowers in bloom! The coast of the Netherlands has the best-growing conditions for these flowers so you’re most likely able to find the fields quite easily in this region.
The BEST and easiest place to visit from Amsterdam is Lisse.
These gardens are ONLY OPEN during tulip season. There are 800 different types of tulips inside so without a doubt, this is where you want to go to experience the tulips.
The grounds are huge and there is quite a lot to see! I HIGHLY recommend visiting, it was such a perfect day! Visiting Keukenhof the most quintessential way to experience the tulips in Amsterdam. It was one of my most memorable days travelling!
💰 Entry tickets cost around 20 euros per adult and we also had to pay 6 euros for parking. You can buy both your entry ticket and pay for parking here (under “Price Keukenhof Gardens”). We booked our tickets in advance and had a timed entry.
⏰ We spent the whole day in this area. We arrived around 11 am, rented bikes at 12 (read more below) and stayed until around 7 pm.
🌷 There are also tours that offer round transportation from Amsterdam and Keukenhof with the entry ticket price included.
🍟 We ate our lunch and dinner inside the park. They had some food trucks and the fries were OUTSTANDING!
🚌 There is a Keukenhof Express Bus that goes from the Amsterdam RAI station. You can also buy tickets that include the shuttle bus and your entrance ticket. The Tulip Festival Amsterdam website has a tonne of useful information (under “How to travel to Keukenhof ?”)! You do have to book a time slot for your bus tickets! So book your tickets in advance!
Renting bikes to see the tulips
Of course, you can always drive, or take a personal tour but I personally thought that renting a bike was the most magical way to experience the tulips in Amsterdam! It gave us the freedom to get up close to the flower fields, enjoy the fresh air and really experience the countryside.
🗺️ There are 4 different loops you can take ranging from 5 – 25 km in length. When you arrive, you can ask their advice on which loop to go on, they will tell you which one has the most flowers in bloom! They also harvest the flowers throughout the season. We noticed some empty fields or bare patches. I strongly recommend asking for their advice on which route to take. They know the most updated information for your specific visit!
🚲 We rented with Rent-a-Bike Van Dam because the pickup location is in the parking lot of Keukenhof, in front of the main entrance! We booked our tickets in advance, so all we had to do is show up, grab our bikes and go!
⏰ You can rent your bike for 3 hours or for the full day. We chose to rent it for the full day so we wouldn’t have to worry about rushing to get back and so we could take our time! In the end, we used the bikes for around 4 hours – which still gave us plenty of time to visit the Keukenhof Gardens!
🌷 It’s really important to be respectful and mindful of the flowers when you’re out and exploring!
💰It costs 16 euros per standard bike for the full day! You also have the option to rent tandem bikes!
You can find more information about the different routes, the different tour options and more about renting bikes on the Tulip Festival Amsterdam website!
Day 3 – Windmills
For our long weekend getaway, we had one morning left to explore before we had to drive back to reality in Lille. This was the Monday morning of Easter weekend and we wanted to experience one more aspect of Dutch culture – the windmills!
This very traditional area of the Netherlands, just north of Amsterdam and it can be easily accessed from the city!
🚗 By car: It’s a roughly 30-minute drive from Amsterdam but the bigger difficulty was parking. The parking lot was full and it was a challenge to find parking in the area. We ended up parking by the soccer fields across the street. It took us a while to find a spot as we had to wait for someone to leave.
🚌 By bus: There is a bus (Rnet-bus 391) from Amsterdam Centraal station that takes 40 minutes.
🚂 By train: You can take a 17-minute train from Amsterdam Centraal station to Zaandijk – Zane Schans. There is an additional 15-minute walk from the train station! Find cheap train prices on Omio or Trainline!
What to do there?
This area felt like a living museum. It’s a residential area made up of traditional 18th and 19th-century homes. There are several windmills on the bank of the river but there is so much more to see here than just the windmills!
You can also find a cheese factory and clog museum. There are bakeries, craft shops, bike routes and other museums to delve you into the Dutch lifestyle. It is a really interesting and worthwhile place in the Netherlands to visit and I really enjoyed our time here.
⏰ We spent around 2 hours wandering around and popping into the different shops.
💰 It was FREE to wander around! There are workshops, you can visit inside different mills, and a variety of museums and experiences you might have to pay for.
You can find a complete list of what to find in Zaanse Schans here!
That was all that we had time for during this visit to the Netherlands in spring. I was very happy and pleased with this visit because it was perfectly well-rounded. We had time to explore the canals of Amsterdam, we spent a day surrounded by tulips and a few hours experiencing other aspects of traditional Dutch culture.
I couldn’t have asked for a better visit to the Netherlands! I hope this itinerary was helpful as you plan a visit to Amsterdam. If your goal is to experience the tulips in Amsterdam, you now have plenty of information to make your dream become a reality! If you are interested in other weekend getaway itineraries you can also check out my Perfect Weekend in Budapest blog post!
Where else should I add to my Netherlands bucket list? Share your suggestions below!